Who will care for your dog or cat when you pass away? What will happen to your bird should you become incapacitated? For many people, providing care for their pet after they pass away or become incapacitated is a very big concern and most states have statutes that provide for the enforcement of trusts created for the benefit of pets.
An animal cannot be a beneficiary of your will. Instead, pet owners need to designate someone to take care of their pet after they die or become incapacitated. Any money left in a last will and testament to an individual “for the care of a pet” is merely a request and unenforceable.
Setting up a trust for your pet is much like setting one up for a person. The trust is a legal entity into which you put money and then designate a trustee who is responsible to safeguard and administer the money. You designate a caregiver and then the trustee is in charge of making payments to the caregiver for your pet’s expenses. It is always a good idea to name one or more alternate trustees and caregivers in the event something should happen to them. You will also need to designate where the money you have set aside for your pet will go after their death. Many people chose to have the remaining balance go to the caregiver or a charitable organization.
It is important to keep your trust up to date with current information and to ensure nothing has changed in your designated caregiver’s situation that might warrant changing designees. It is also a good idea to give a copy of the trust to your chosen caregiver, and family members who may be involved with the care of your pet.
Creating a trust for your pet is not just for the wealthy or the eccentric. It is a relatively inexpensive and practical way to ensure you have provided for your pet when you can no longer do so because of death or incapacity.